The appalling culture of sexual harassment and abuse on Egyptian streets is no secret. Most often, the women being victimized are blamed; as we found out from Arab News readers last fall in a story on this topic, silly kuffar, self control is for girls.
But here is the problem: wherever there is a segment or multiple segments of society who are second-class citizens (women, dhimmis), those classes bear an unfair burden to mollify their overlords by showing that they know their place.
Liberal democracies are not made from this social order. Where the responsibility of self-restraint is borne unequally or abdicated, a society is more likely to submit to tyranny to protect it from itself, or at least lend some air of predictability to anticipated abuse, as well as justification for dishing it out. Hence the “modesty police.”
“Muslim Brotherhood advocates Egyptian modesty police,” by David E. Miller for The Media Line, April 4 (thanks to Jonathan):
Officials of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s leading Islamic group, have called for the establishment of a Saudi-style modesty police to combat “immoral” behavior in public areas in what observers say in another sign of a growing Islamic self-confidence in the post-Mubarak era.
In the political sphere, the Brotherhood led a successful drive to get voters to approve a package of constitutional amendments. On the street level, at least 20 attacks were perpetrated against the tombs of Muslim mystics (suffis), who are the subject of popular veneration but disparaged by Islamic fundamentalists, or salafis. After some initial hesitation, Islamic leaders have publicly praised the revolution.
“This is incredibly worrying to many Egyptians,” Maye Kassem, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo (AUC), told The Media Line. “The salafis were always undercover in Egypt and now they are emerging as a political force. They are getting too vocal.”
Newly freed from the political strictures of the Mubarak era, Egypt has turned into a battleground between those who envision a liberal, secular state and those who advocate various shades if Islam. The conflict mirrors those taking place elsewhere in the region. In Bahrain, unrest has evolved into a conflict between Sunni- and Shiite Muslims and the US has pulled back from supporting Libyan rebels over concerns they are dominated by Islamists.
Issam Durbala, a member of the Brotherhood’s Shura council, told the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Youm on Sunday, that he supported the establishment of a virtue police, or Hisbah, which had existed in medieval Islamic societies to oversee public virtue and modesty, mostly in the marketplace and other public gathering spaces.
But he seemed to stop short of advocating a force along then lines of that which operates in Saudi Arabia today under the auspices of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. It enforces a dress code, separation of sexes and the observances of prayer times.
“The new police must have a department with limited authorities to arrest those who commit immoral acts,” Durbala told the newspaper.
Nevertheless, liberal, secular Egyptians, who led the protests that brought down President Hosni Mubarak and ushered in a new but as yet undefined era in Egypt, regard the proposal as the latest sign that Islamists are emerging as the dominant force in the country.
Sa’id Abd Al-Azim, a leader of the salafi movement in Alexandria, attacked Egyptian “liberals” for waging a media campaign against his movement.
“Despite the attacks against the salafi movement, it is constantly advancing — untouched by the attack,” Abd Al-Azim told Al-Masry Al-Youm. “If the Christians want safety they should submit to the rule of God and be confident that the Islamic sharia [law] will protect them.” […]
Keep your Sharia. Keep your “protection” racket.
Nagib Gibrail, a Coptic attorney and head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights, said the Egyptian revolution had been kidnapped by Islamist radicals.
“There are areas in Egypt where Christian girls can’t walk outside after eight o’clock in the evening for fear of being kidnapped,” Gibrail told The Media Line. “Moderate Muslims should be more scared than Christians. It is very worrying that the military regime hasn’t issued a statement declaring Egypt a secular state.” ….